East Ridge City Manager Andrew Hyatt on Thursday announced the appointment of Mike Williams, who has worked in the city for 26 years, to the position of fire chief. “Our fire department is in very good hands,” said Mr. Hyatt.
Upcoming matters that will be considered in the near future include formulating the 2015 budget. Mr. Hyatt told council members that they would soon be receiving a budget calendar from which to work.
Upcoming also will be the discussion about health insurance benefits for the spouses of retirees, who currently are not covered by the city. Diane Qualls, finance director, said the city pays the premiums for retired employees but if families were included, the cost to the city would be twice the amount it is now. This year the budget includes $47,250 for that purpose. The amount would jump to $94,500 if spouses were included and would be considered a liability on the city’s books. The percentage paid by East Ridge is incremental based on the years of employment with 100 percent paid after working 25 years. The city manager was charged with determining more concrete numbers of the cost to the city before the matter is voted on.
Another item being considered by the council is if the city should have its own 911 call center. The issue is lag time between when the call is received and the time it takes to relay it to East Ridge. It was recognized that the response time is fast once the call is received. Police Chief Steve Mize was asked to compile a list of these times to determine if it would be beneficial to bring a call center in-house.
A vote to update city codes was approved Thursday night. Councilman Marc Gravitt said city residents currently are working and living under these codes and this was simply an update. Included in the changes are building and utility codes, fire, fuel, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical codes. Maintenance of all property and buildings to ensure safety and fitness for occupation is another condition in this update, as well for the condemnation and demolition of structures that are unfit.
At the request of FEMA, an amendment to the zoning regulations and map was made adding a section for standards for streams without established base flood elevations and floodways.
Several “housekeeping” moves were passed that amended the budget in order to appropriate funds. The council voted to accept a grant of $25,000 from the Lyndhurst Foundation for the development of two canoe launches at Camp Jordan Park.
Key’s Carpet Center was awarded the contract to replace the carpet in the City Hall building with its low bid of $27,602.
Electrical needs at the transfer station were also given approval.
After the first vote to accept the terms of a settlement with the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority, the WWTA tweaked some of the language but not the substance of it, said City Attorney Hal North. Therefore, a unanimous vote was taken to approve the settlement.
The city wants to replace an existing sign at Camp Jordan Park with a new six-by-eight-foot LED message sign. Councilmen also would like another new sign placed by the police and fire services department. A request for proposal will be made for the purchase of one sign with the possibility of a second. Both would be double sided and include all components and hardware to install and to control remotely, and must conform to the city sign codes.
Camp Jordan will also benefit from new water lines that were authorized for irrigation of four new adult baseball fields. This would be the only four-field complex in the Chattanooga area geared to ages 13 and up, said Parks and Recreation Director Stump Martin. The pipes would be configured to accommodate sprinkler heads in the future. The city will do the work it is capable of and the rest will be put out to bid. Councilman Gravitt also suggested installing a separate water meter so sewer charges would not apply to the water used for growing grass.
Mayor Brent Lambert asked for and received the council’s approval for the city to host a financial workshop for citizens that do not know how to keep finances in order. It will be headed by volunteers on Jan. 25 around 10 a.m. at the community center.
The administrators at Lifecare Center have volunteered to do a free seminar about the Affordable Health Care Act. This, too, was authorized by the council for a future date.
A barbecue held each September at Jones Memorial United Methodist Church is a long-standing East Ridge tradition, said the mayor. A representative from the church reported to the council how proceeds from this year's barbecue were used to benefit the community. She said 165 coats for school children had been bought and given, including hats and gloves along with a Bible for each. The women’s club also filled 80 senior stockings for the Salvation Army from the profits.
Mark Brandt, heading up the East Ridge neighborhood watch program, asked the city for more vigilance in controlling speeding cars through school zones. Increasing the size of speed limit signs in the areas to get attention, or using the school crossing guards to caution drivers were two suggestions made. Councilman Larry Sewell proposed using the city’s speed indicator sign in the problem areas.
Another citizen came to the meeting asking the council for help in dealing with the WWTA. His complaint is that payment for sewer services cannot be made in cash. He also took issue with the fact that locations for paying sewer bills require the purchase of merchandise or a charge for the service before receiving a payment, thus increasing the price of the original bill.
The East Ridge Christmas parade on Nov. 23 was considered to be a great success by city officials. Lewis “Kayo” Erwin, Sr. served as Grand Marshall leading the celebration that had over 80 entries this year. The winners of the parade were announced at the city council meeting Thursday
Lewis Erwin was parade grand marshal